Join Joe Kennedy and Juliet Jacques to discuss our obsession with authenticity, and the ways it has been instrumentalised politically.
We are entering, we are told, a post-liberal age. Authoritarian populism is in the ascendant, and permissiveness, multiculturalism and “identity politics” have allegedly failed us, meaning that we must now fall back on some idea of tradition. However, it’s not only the usual, conservative suspects who are making this argument, but centrist politicians who, at least notionally, are hostile to the likes of Donald Trump and UKIP.
“Authentocracy” is the populism of the centre, with a spurious concern for “real people” that’s part of a broader turn within British culture (as exemplified in the brute masculinity of Daniel Craig’s James Bond, the “progressive” patriotism of nature writing, and a televisual obsession with the World Wars), as it withdraws under the bad-faith supposition that there’s nowhere to go but backwards.
In their declaration that the Left can only save itself by becoming less liberal, in Authentocrats: Culture, Politics and the New Seriousness, Joe Kennedy charges liberals themselves with fuelling the post-liberal turn, and asks where the space might be found for an alternative.
About the speakers:
Joe Kennedy teaches English and Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex. He is the author of Games Without Frontiers (Repeater Books, 2016) and Authentocrats: Culture, Politics and the New Seriousness (Repeater Books, 2018).
Juliet Jacques is a writer and film-maker, whose most recent book was Trans: A Memoir (Verso, 2015). She is the host of Suite (212) on Resonance 104.4fm.